Scoping Review of Health Economics Research on Refugee Health in Sub-Saharan Africa



Most refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) stay in low- and middle-income settings. A substantial proportion are hosted by countries in sub-Saharan African (SSA), which puts significant pressure on limited government healthcare budgets. As health economics may guide more optimal healthcare decision making, we scope the health economics literature on forcibly displaced populations in SSA to identify the nature and range of health economics evidence.


We conducted a scoping review of peer-reviewed and gray literature in English published from 2000 to 2021. Our search terms comprised a combination of keywords related to refugees, SSA, and health economics. We followed a stepwise methodology consisting of the identification and selection of studies, extraction and charting of data.


We identified 29 health economics studies on refugees and IDPs in SSA covering different providers, interventions, and delivery platforms. Twenty-one articles studied the determinants of health, followed by 5 on the supply of healthcare and 2 concerned with economic evaluation and the demand for healthcare, respectively. We found an equal division of articles focusing on refugees and IDPs, as well as by settlement type. Mental health was the most frequently studied health area and Uganda was the most studied destination country.


The health economics literature on refugees in SSA remains limited. Our scoping review encourages future research to study a larger variety of healthcare systems and health economic topics such as economic evaluations, health financing and whole health systems to support resource allocation decisions and sustainable long-term solutions.


Wiktoria Tafesse Julie Jemutai Chrispus Mayora Federica Margini

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